“Watch out for the possum”

Earlier this morning, I was filling up hay bags in my 8:30 AM state of mind when Dan said to me “Watch out for the 0possum, he scratch and bite”

…what the hell?

Then I look over, and right next to the hay bale I was pulling from in a little silver trap is this fluffy thing that was being referred to as “a opossum”.

Now, growing up, I didn’t see opossum(s?) ┬ávery often. They were rare creatures of the night, but I certainly knew what one looked like. They are kind of weird white or grey creatures with elongated faces and a naked tail.

The thing I saw this morning, and which I have placed a picture of above, looked nothing like that. This opossum was fuzzy, brown, and fat. It was really pretty cute, too.

I thought seeing this critter was awesome – apparently nobody else on the farm thought it was a treat at all. Dan said to me, “they just come in to eat the hay”. Charlotte said, “we catch a couple a month”. Marine said, “oh yeah” and continued with her work. Meanwhile I’m walking around with this dumb grin on my face, really pleased to have seen my first non-domesticated mammal here.

After some brief googling at lunch, I learned that we had caught a bush-tailed possum (not opossum) – a common find in New Zealand. I was excited. To be honest, I’m still a little excited.

 

Later in the afternoon, I was out on a trek with the Holiday Riding program, alongside a girl named Julie.

Julie and I were talking, while she rode and I walked. We talked about our dogs and how bad their farts smell. We were talking about places we had lived (Julie lived in Thailand so she’s way cooler than me). And we were talking about roadkill. You know, the normal people things to talk about.┬áDuring our roadkill conversation, I was telling Julie a story about how my sister once hit a raccoon on our way to school. It was at this point when another girl in front of us turned around and said “There was a raccoon on the road???” And I replied “Yeah, they’re all over”.

These little girls looked at me dumbfounded until I realized that they thought I was telling a story that took place in New Zealand, not in America. After asking Julie, I learned that the only place they would see a raccoon is in a zoo. Think about that: our little trash pandas featured as an entertaining zoo exhibit. It’s almost a humorous thought.

In a way, our raccoons are as cool to them as their possums are to me. What they find ordinary is something I can find as a highlight of my day, and vice versa.

I’m really liking that about being somewhere new. I don’t have any expectations of what I might see or hear or experience, and any expectations I do have are generally wrong. Everything I’m seeing here, I’m seeing with the first time. I don’t have the tunnel vision of time to block out the acquired mundane. Even the littlest thing is something different – exciting.

I’m noticing how the trees grow here – everything grows really upward, which is very hard to explain.

I’m noticing these little birds called fantails – they’re quite beautiful, but apparently it is a bad omen if one flies into your house.

I’m noticing the night sky – I know we’re all seeing the same stars, but these stars don’t look like mine.

I’m noticing maps – the one world map I’ve seen here puts New Zealand in the middle which sounds obvious, but it’s interesting to see how the rest of the world which I thought I knew is subsequently distorted.

There is a lot new here. Actually, there is everything new here. It’s exciting to see the ordinary.

 

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